Laxatives are one of the most purchased over the counter medications and are completely unrestricted in the UK. I have a strong believe that laxatives actually promote constipation rather than cure it and I’m the perfect example. Laxatives are predominately a quick remedy from a symptom rather than and cure for a large problem. Everyone is different and some people have a bowel movement from anywhere from twice a day to once per week, but when your rhythm is out of balance most often than not it’s down to a change in lifestyle habits or stress. Usually when a bowel movement is difficult or painful people will generally opt for these types of laxatives. They promise an overnight solution and by morning all will be good in the world. Unfortunately this is not necessarily the answer.

What Problems do they cause?

These types of laxatives can produce an array of problems if taken regularly. The main ingredient in these types of laxatives are Bisacodyl, and has a purging effect on the body, this is why this is usually used to prep patients for colonoscopys. They are also highly addictive and if taken for long periods of time you bowel can become dependant them, and in turn can develop colonic inertia; your bowel will lose muscle tone and strength. Over time you body builds up a tolerance to the laxatives and higher doses are need to see any effects. Further side effects of long term use are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Gas
  • Chronic constipation
  • Severe stomach pain& discomfort
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss*

*Some choose stimulant laxatives to aid in weight loss, however this is strongly NOT advised and is not a healthy recommended solution to weight loss. This is considered an eating disorder and if you or someone you know is taking laxatives in excess, you must see a medical advisor.

Over the counter stimulant laxatives are known as:

  • Ducolax
  • Sennakot
  • Ex-Lax
  • Fleet

How Do They Work?

Stimulant laxatives work by irritating the bowel into overdrive, forcing your body to have  a bowel movement. This puts the body under a lot of stress and should only be taken occasionally. If you have to take them on a regular basis, there is a bigger problem at hand and you should contact your physician.

What is the best course of action?

Remember, laxatives cure the symptom not the cause. If it has been about 2 to 3 days that you have not had a bowel movement, stay calm! Before taking any laxatives, adjust your diet and life style habits a little to see if it makes a difference. Read my post Constipated? Get Your Natural Rhythm Back Through Diet

Laxative Types

 Please remember I’m not a doctor of any kind and the information on this site is advisory only, you must always consult a qualified physician prior to dramatic lifestyle changes or if you have any cause for concern about your own well-being.